Palakkad fort, situated in the Palakkad town, is beautiful and best preserved forts in Kerala. The sober silence of the granite wall reminds the old tale of valour and courage. It was constructed in 1766 by Hyder Ali of Mysore and his son Tippu Sulthan. In 1790 the fort was taken over and re-modified by the British East India company. The fort is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. Martyr's Column Open Air Auditorium called "Rappadi" and Tourism Information Centre of District Tourism Promotion council are there in the spacious Fort Maidan. The children's park and Vatika' are just on the side of the Fort. The fort was situated in the middle of Palakkad Gap with an area of 15 acres.
Malampuzha Garden is the Vrindavan of Kerala. Malampuzha exudes the charm of the harmony of nature, a perfect synchronization of the grandeur of the mountains blending with the serenity of rivers. It is 12 km from Palakkad. There are lush green lawns, innumerable flower beds, glittering pool, fountains and avenues. There is a fresh water aquarium also. A snake park and a children's park with a toy train which await the pleasure and delight of children. The reservoir is ideal for boating and fishing. The Garden House has a unit of water ports, a small garden in the Japanese style gives a touch of exotic charm to the landscape. So does the hanging bridge across the river, another items of interest in the part is the imposing concrete sculpture of Yakshi done by the renowned artiste Kanai Kunhiraman.
The Passenger ropeway is the first of its kind in South India, offers adventurous and delightful air journey of 20 minutes across the gardens, giving a soul stirring view of the garden. There is a road train for amusement ride on wheels. There is also telescope tower in the garden providing a terrestrial view up to 40 miles. The first rock garden emerged from the Master creator Padmasree Neck Chand Saini of Chandigarh, in South India is at Malampuzha. Modelled after Appu Ghar of Delhi and Essel World of Mumbai, the first amusement park of Kerala named Fantsay park is at Malampuzha.
The most interesting features in the making of the garden is that whole place is made of unwanted and broken pieces of bangles, tiles, used plastic cans, tins and other waste materials.
The beautiful cool hills of Nelliampathy is in the midst of the majestic Western Ghats. It is the queen of Palakkad hills, clothed with the original beauty of picturesque mountains and enchanting valleys, interspersed with the panoramic tea, coffee, cardamom and orange plantations. The bracing climate and green magic of nature will provide an exhilrating and unforgetable experience.
Nelliampathy, 52 km from Palakkad town and about 9 km from Nenmara, adjoins the Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary where leopards, elephants, bisons and deers abound. The total area is about 82 sq km. The highest peak in the range is Nellikotta, also called Padagiri. It is 1585.08 meters above sea level. The other major peaks are Vellachimudi, Valiyavana, Mayanmudi and Vela Vanchan, each about 1200 meters high. The annual average rainfall in the area is 47.24 mm. The temperature varies between 15 °C in December and 30 °C in April, the mean temperature being 22 °C.
Massive teak trees are on the way and the narrow zigzag road needs skillful driving. One can see rare species of birds like Grey-breasted Laughing Thrush, Great Pied Hornbill, Jerdon's Baza, Great Black Woodpecker, Oriental Broad-billed Roller, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Broad-tailed Grassbird and Nilgiri Pipit. The Pothundi reservoir glints in the distance like sapphire in a sea of emerald.
Seethakundu at Nelliyampathy offers a fantastic view of the valley below. The 1000 m high seasonal waterfall is one of the major attractions. Seethakundu got its name from the legend that Sita Devi, during the vanavasa period with Sri Rama, took a bath here. During Deepavali, a large number of devotees gather here.
Pothundy is 38 km south of Palakkad town. An irrigation project was commissioned here in 1968 with an estimated cost of Rs 234.25 lakhs, consisting of an earthen dam with a spill way section across the tributaries of Ayalur river. It is 10 km right bank canal and 8 km left bank canal irrigate an area of 5,465 hectares in Chittur and Alathur taluks. The project also provides water supply to Nenmara and Ayalur villages.
This was the centre of political as well as tenant movements in south Malabar of the erstwhile Malabar province of Madras Presidency. The festival at Chathan Kandar kavu is very famous one in Ottappalam. The legend goes that the temple was built by the local Kanjoor Namboothiri family at a place where a scheduled cast person called Chathan found a stone bleeding while he was sharpening his knife on it. The deity of this temple is Durga. The annual festival is Thalapoli which is celebrated on Avittam day in Meenam (March-April).
The Silent Valley National park, with an area of 90 sq km, is situated in the north eastern corner of the district. It rises abruptly to the Nilgiri Plateau in the north and overlooks the plains of Mannarkkad in the south. The river Kunthi descends from the Nilgiri hills above, an altitude of 2000 m, traverses the entire length of the valley and rushes down to the plains through a deep gorge. River Kunthi never turns brown; it is crystal clear, perennial and wild. The park is located 32 km from Mannarkad in Palakkad district in Kerala.
The core of the Nilgiri Biosphere reserve, the Silent valley National park, is probably one of the most magnificent gifts of nature to mankind, a unique preserve of tropical rain forests in all its pristine glory with an almost unbroken ecological history. Thanks largely to its difficult terrain and remoteness, the extent of degradation is minimal in comparison with other sanctuaries.
Sairandhri Vanam, meaning the forest in the Valley as referred to in the Mahabharatha and the river Kunthi give a mythological dimension to the National park. The Silent valley is seldom silent; it has an inexplicably unique character about it, with the dense forest, the music of the birds and its quiet majesty.
The forest belongs to the bio-geographical class of the Malabar Rain forests and harbour about 1000 species of plants. The flowering plants here include 966 species belonging 134 families and 599 genera. The dicotyledons are 701 in number distributed among 113 families and 430 genera; monocotyledons are 265 distributed among 21 families and 139 genera.
The valley has a far representation of all peninsular mammals. They are Lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri Langur, Bonnet Macaque, Tiger, leopard (panther), Leopard cat, Jungle cat, Fishing cat, Common Plam civet, Small indian Civet, Brown Plam Civet, Ruddy Mongoose, Stripe necked Monogoose, Wild dog, Sloth bear, Otter, Flying squirrel, Malabar giant squirrel, Indian Pangolin (Scaly ant eater), Porcupine, Wild boar, Sambar, spotted deer, Barking deer, Gaur and Elephant. Birds include rare species such as Indian Black-crested Baza, Bonellis Hawk eagle, Rufous Bellied Hawk eagle, Shaheen Falcon, Short-Eared Owl, Penisular Scops Owl, Ceylon Frog Mouth, Great Indian Hornbill, Nilgiri Laughing Thrush, House Marin, Rufous Bellied-Shortwing, Malay Bitten etc. About 170 species have been recorded, of which 31 are migrants.
The tropical evergreen forests occurring within a narrow strip above the equator is perhaps the most endangered natural habitat. Extremely fragile, it has suffered most from human interference. In species diversity, it is the richest habitat. That there is very little soil erosion and that the rains are transformed into perennial streams and rivers may be attributed to the thick canopy and closely packed tree stumps. In fact, scarcity of water is rarely felt. The evapo-transpiaration from these forests is much higher than from any other surface. This cools the atmosphere, helping easy condensation of water vapour-the orgin of the much-awaited summer rains.
Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary
Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary is 100 km from Palakkad and best accessed from Pollachi (Tamil Nadu). The sanctuary is 38 km from Pollachi and is served by buses (0615, 1115 & 1515 h). Best season is between August and February. Entry fee Rs 10. Trekking inside sanctuary can be booked. Tucked away in the valley between the Anamalai ranges of Tamil Nadu and the Nelliampathy ranges of Kerala on the majestic Western Ghats is the Parambikulam wildlife sanctuary, a fine example of serene, tranquil and undisturbed eco system. Situated in Palakkad district, it was originally a small tract of reserve forest of 48 sq km. However, owing to growing wildlife needs, it was expanded in 1962 and today it is a vast expanse of greenery of 285 sq km in area.
Ideally suited to the growth of teak, the tract encouraged large scale teak plantations through artificial regeneration in the early 20's. This was, however abandoned when a full-fledged wildlife department was formed in 1985. 9000 ha of teak plantations in the sanctuary are being managed in such a way as to restore the forest's original status. A 400 year old giant teak tree 48.75m high and 6.48 m in girth is a standing monument of the past aptly named 'Kannimaram'.
Topography : Several streams originate from the hill ranges and flow down westward to join the river Chalakudi. The terrain is most undulating with a valley in the basin. The Karimala Gopuram is the highest peak (1444 m), the average elevation is about 600 m.
Climate : The Sanctuary receives much heavier rains between June and August. The eastern part of the sanctuary receives more rain in October-November. Temperature drops substantially and mist envelopes the sanctuary in the morning hours.
Dams and Lakes : Three dams have been built by the Tamil Nadu Government under the Parambikulam-Aliyar project. The reservoir offers several kinds of aquatic fauna.
Forest types : Natural forests are classified as follows -
1. West coast tropical evergreen forests.
2. West coast semi evergreen forests.
3. South Indian moist deciduous forests.
4. South Indian dry deciduous forests.
5. Moist bamboo brakes.
6. Reed brakes.
Tropical evergreen forests (area 50 sq km approximately). A wide variety of trees grow here the top canopy consists of Pall, Puunna, Nangu, Vediplavu, Kalpine, Aini, Kambakam, Vellapine, Vellagil, Pathiri, Nedunar etc.
Lower canopy predominantly consists of Vetti Kara, Nasagam, Marotti, Kurukutti, cheru, Muthalvu etc. Undergrowth comprises Antidesma, Calamas, Glycosmis, Kxora species etc.
Semi-evergreen forests (extent 30 sq km)- Both evergreen and moist deciduous species are found in these areas.
Moist deciduous forests(extent 70 sq km) Top canopy : Manjakadambu, Vaka, Pala, Elavu, Vembu, Rosewood, Avaal, Venteak, Venga, Teak, Maruthi, Pathiri etc.
Administration : The sanctuary is heralded by a Divisional Forest Officer with headquarters at Thunacadavu and is under the direct control of the Field Director, Project Tiger. There are four ranges with 13 sections.
The sanctuary is accessible by road. Buses ply between Pollachi and Parambikulam. Pollachi is 60 km away and has a Railway station. The nearest airport is at Coimbatore, 100 km away. Visitors can have boat rides in the Parambikulam lake and tour the sanctuary with the help of guides. There is a forest rest house at Thunacadavu. The Parambikulam project also provides accommodation. There are several hotels in Pollachi and Coimbatore.
J.P. Smrithi Vanam : Loknayak J.P. Smrithi Vanam and Deer park is in an extent of 10 acres of reserve forest at Walayar in the border of Kerala and Tamilnadu on the side of NH 47. Deers and other animals move freely in this park. Facilities for elephant ride are provided. The distance from Palakkad town is 22 km.
Mayiladumpara peacock sanctuary : Myiadumpara Choolannur peacock sanctuary is 30 km away from Palakkad. It is well known as a grove abounding in peacocks.
Located 48 km south of Palakkad town, Mangalam is mainly occupied by settlers from other parts of the State. Mangalam dam is located near the NH 47, about 14 km south of Wadakkancherry village. The dam is constructed across Cherukunnappuzha, a tributary of mangalam river. It is located in picturesque surroundings. The reservoir fringes on the forest area where there are deers, wild elephants and a variety of birds. There are beautiful parks and lawns adorned with statues.
The Siruvani project is in Sholayar panchayat. The dam, constructed across Siruvani, is for supplying drinking water to Coimbatore municipality. The dam is surrounded by reserve forests. The distance from Edakkurissi to Siruvani dam is 22 km. The scenic beauty of Siruvani is simply enchanting. Muthukulam hill is situated on the eastern side of the dam. There is a natural waterfall in the hill.
Meenkara is a fascinating spot by virtue of the dam, garden, fish ponds and natural beauty. It is 32 km south east of Palakkad town.
It is 15 km away from Palakkad. Kottayi is the native place of the Palakkad Chembai Vaidyanaha Bhagavathar, the doyen of Karnatic Music.
There are 10 steps of waterfalls at Meen vallom, the originating point Thuppanadu river. The height of the falls varies from 5 to 45 metres. The distance from Palakkad is 37 km.
Attappadi is a tribal abode. Irular, Mudugar and Kurumbar are the main tribal groups. They live in forest in closely built huts called 'Ooru' (hamlet). The Government have finalised some concrete programmes to uplift the tribals.
Peruvmpu in Palakkad taluk, is famous for making leather musical instruments like chenda, maddhalam, thakil, deca, tabala, edakka, thimila, udukku etc.
Kanjirappuzha dam is situated 24 km from Palakkad. The water spread of the dam lies in a single stretch. An evergreen forest, by name 'Vettilachola', is immediately beyond the reservoir which is surrounded by hills and during rainy season, the mountain will be covered with mist. All this makes the area extremely beautiful and picturesque. There are three islands in the reservoir with plenty of fish (including commercial varieties) grown by the Fisheries Department.
Across the lush green fields, 2 km from Chittur town on the banks of river, Sokanashini, an old building where Thunchath Ramanujan Ezhuthachan, regarded as the father of Malayalam language, lived in the 16th century.
People call it Gurumadhom and it is here that he transcreated the two great Sanskrit epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, for the common people with the subtle and meaningful mingling of Sanskrit and Dravidian strems of the prevailing language and literature. Ezhuthachan evolved an altogether new texture for the Malayalam language.
As the story goes, Thunchath Ezhuthachan, on his way back from his sojourn in Tamil Nadu, had a stop-over here with his disciples. The tranquility of the place made him settle down here for the rest of his life. Occupied by Tamil Brahmins who perhaps are the descendents of the disciples of the Acharya, the village still has an old look and on both sides of the building are temples of Sree Rama and Siva. The street with long arrays of Agraharams has all the charm of antiquity that we should love to preserve.
At the Gurumadhom
A Srichakra and a few idols worshipped by him, the stylus, the wooden slippers and a few old manuscripts are exhibited. It is on Vijayadasami day that the memorial gets the maximum number of visitors with hundreds of children brought here for a ritualistic initiation into learning.
Kalakkath Kunchan Nambiar represents an age and its culture in the field of Malayalam literature. He was the native of Killikurissi mangalam in Palakkad. Now, the Kunchan Smarakam is a national monument and is being governed by a committee appointed by the Government.
A three year course on Ottan Thullal, Seethankan Thullal and Parayan Thullal was started with the help of artistes attached to this monument. The smarakam celebrates Navarathri festival with much pomp and grandeur. Every year, May 5th is celebrated as Thunchan Day. A library and an auditorium are attached to this monument.